SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The Santa Cruz Police Department trying out a new format in an effort to hear from the community.
Monday kicked off a series of town halls that will run throughout October. Each to target a different Santa Cruz neighborhood weekly. Those at Monday's first meeting said it was a good start.
"I think the community was excited to come and have their voice heard," said Santa Cruz Resident Victoria Sanchez-Toledo.
"It was a good way to see what the new focus is," said Julie Merill, a Santa Cruz Native.
A focus the Santa Cruz Police Department says includes the community it's sworn to serve.
"We need to do this together, we need to walk shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip," said Police Chief Andy Mills, "When you do that you build this incredible bond and relationship with the community that can't be destroyed."
The town hall meeting was interactive and looked at several topics impacting the community. Residents not only getting to speak their mind, but also write down their ideas to be used later.
"The format was really able to let people get their opinions out there and interact with officers," Sanchez-Toledo said.
Though the tone of the evening was lighthearted, the issues were serious.
"I, for the first time this year, started not feeling safe walking downtown in my own town," Merill said, "Turning my jewelry around, not talking on the phone while I'm walking, holding my purse a little tighter, you know. I want to feel safe."
Concerns the police department is hoping to hear and address through these events.
"The key element is to find and hold us accountable for our effectiveness rather than just our efficiencies," Chief Mills said, "We can write all the tickets we want all day long but if it's not being effective then why do it?"
On top of looking at all of the comments and concerns from the public, the department will look at the results of all the meetings at the end of October to come up with a more comprehensive plan for the city and put it into action.